The governorship election in Oyo State appears a sort of rectangular contest. The race will be among four candidates: Adelabu, Makinde, Lanlehin, Alao-Akala
Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The political space in Oyo State, barely three months to the 2019 general election in Nigeria, is still very cloudy. Political pundits and analysts are finding it very difficult to predict the direction the election will go at all levels, especially the governorship and presidential polls.
READ ALSO: Oyo 2019: Between Ladoja, Makinde
For presidential election, investigation revealed that irrespective of the number of political parties that have produced presidential candidates, the race is between President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, the governorship election in Oyo State appears a sort of rectangular contest. The race will be among four candidates. They are: former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Chief Adebayo Adelabu of APC; an oil magnate, Mr. Oluseyi Makinde, of PDP; former vice chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning, Economic Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, of the African Democratic Congress (ADC); and a former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, of Action Democratic Party (ADP).
It is being envisaged that candidates of other political parties will align with any of the four candidates to win the governorship election and probably serve in the new political dispensation, peradventure their candidate wins. The current situation in the political arena in the state has been that of alignment and realignment by politicians with electoral victory as their target.
Daily Sun gathered that the governorship poll in the state may not be a bed of roses for the ruling APC, in spite for the fact that the party produced the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
How the parties stand APC, the strength, which it leveraged on to win the 2015 governorship poll in the state might have whittled down as a result of an implosion that factionalised the party into two during the ward, local government, and state congresses of the party in April and May 2018. The two groups are those that are loyal to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, known as SENACO, which is acronym for Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organisation, and coalition of those that are against him, christened the APC Unity Forum.
The APC Unity Forum was made up of different groups within the party. One of the groups is LAMIST, which stood for those that were in the APC since it was founded as Action Congress (AC) and when it was Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). They were loyal to a former governor of the state, late Alhaji Lam Adesina, who administered the state from 1999 to 2003. He was the leader of ACN that produced Ajimobi as governor in 2011. Members of SENACO are those that followed Governor Abiola Ajimobi from All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) to ACN prior to the 2011 general elections.
Ajimobi, who was in the senate from 2003 to 2007 on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD), had contested the governorship poll in the state on the platform of ANPP in 2007. But he lost to Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, who governed the state from 2007 to 2011 on the platform of PDP. Alao-Akala, however, lost even as an incumbent, to Ajimobi in 2011.
Before the coming of Ajimobi to ACN, it was said that people have been looking up to Senator Olufemi Lanlehin to run for the governorship on the ticket of ACN. But the popularity of Ajimobi based on his antecedents in the political arena, particularly in the state probably made him a preferred candidate for the plum job. But Lanlehin, was then compensated with the senatorial ticket in 2011 and he won the contest.
However, the implosion that rocked the party six months ago also has the minister of Communications, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, who was the leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Oyo State before it dissolved into APC ahead of 2015 general elections, leading those that followed him into the APC Unity Forum. Those that formed the APC Unity Forum also included a former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, who currently represents Oyo Central in the upper chambers of the national assembly; former Chief of Staff to Governor Ajimobi, Professor Adeolu Akande; son of Alhaji Lam Adesina, Dapo Lam-Adesina, who served as Commissioner for Youth and Sports during the first term of Ajimobi and currently representing Ibadan North-East/South-East Federal constituency in the House of Representatives; and ex-caretaker chairman of Ibadan North West local government, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun.
The group loyal to Ajimobi held its state congress at Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, and the Unity Forum also held a parallel state congress at Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Oke-Ado, Ibadan. Each of the groups elected its own state executive council. The Unity Forum had accused the loyalists of Ajimobi of not paying for nomination forms and the latter dismissed the allegation as a tissue of lie. The matter could not be resolved until the national leadership of the party swore in Chief Akin Oke as chairman of the party in Oyo State in Abuja.
Oke was returned unopposed as chairman at a factional congress held at Adamasingba Stadium. Oke came back home and after some weeks also swore in members of the State Executive Council (SEC) that emerged at Adamasingba Stadium. He also set up a committee to reconcile the aggrieved members of the party.
The non-recognition of the APC Unity Forum by the national leadership of the party, Daily Sun gathered, made a number of people in the forum to dump APC for ADC in the state. Those that went to ADC include Senator Sunmonu, Dapo Lam-Adesina, Dr. Olatubosun.
Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala also left APC when it was obvious that he would not get the governorship ticket of the party. He went to ADP to actualise his dream. Prof. Adeolu Akande also left APC for ADP [See Editor’s Correction: Prof Akande not in ADP]
Minister of Communications, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, is still in APC, but he appears unhappy with the party. Though he was among the eight aspirants that obtained the party’s governorship form of N22.5 million each, he was screened out by National Working Committee (NWC) on the grounds that he did not participate in the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Prior to the Adelabu’s emergence as APC candidate, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and former Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan announced their withdrawal from the contest, leaving five aspirants. However, four other aspirants, a Senior Partner in KPMG Professional Services in Nigeria, Olasunkanmi Tegbe; Director, Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited, Dr. Olusola Ayandele; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babalola Owolabi; and a legal luminary, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) all stepped down for Adelabu. But the primary election still held.
Political observers see Shittu’s continued stay in APC as a mark of loyalty to President Buhari and based on his ministerial position. But that Ajimobi and the minister have never been on the same page politically.
But some members of APC Unity Forum that defected to ADC and ADP said they have not totally left APC because they would work for President Buhari’s second term re-election bid, but would work against Governor Ajimobi, who has picked the APC senatorial ticket for Oyo South and the APC in the state.
Though APC made reconciliatory moves to broker peace so that its aggrieved members would not defect, it did not work. The reconciliation seemed to be working until a deadlock was reached during the primaries conducted by the party.
But the party was able to successfully manage more than 40 aspirants jostling to become its governorship candidate for next year’s election. This was said to have prevented mass defection from the party to other parties. But majority of the aspirants that lost at primaries are not happy with the party and they may work against the victory of the party from within, unless proactive steps are taken to placate them, Daily Sun’s investigations further revealed.
Until very recently, the PDP in Oyo State was factionalised into two, with one supporting a former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja, and the other one supporting an oil magnate, the party’s governorship candidate, Makinde.
The crisis stemmed from two state congresses held in the state in November 2017. Ladoja’s faction held its congress at Watershed Event Centre, Old Ife, Road, while Makinde’s faction also held a parallel congress at Baptist Secondary School, Oke-Ado, Ibadan.
The PDP chieftains behind Makinde include a former Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola and former deputy chief whip in the seventh senate, Senator Hosea Agboola. Makinde’s group reportedly moved for a parallel congress when they discovered that the unity list of those that would form the State Executive Council (SEC) of the party would favour Ladoja’s group alone.
The PDP constitution, according to members of Makinde’s group, allows for a parallel congress and anywhere a parallel congress is held, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party will harmonise the two executive councils for peace to reign. It is the political gimmick that is unknown to many card-carrying members of the party, except those that have really studied the party’s constitution, they claim.
When the harmonisation was eventually done by the NWC of PDP, Ladoja, who said the validly elected SEC emerged at the congress conducted by a former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, at Watershed Event Centre, asked the NWC to reverse the harmonisation. But the NWC did not do the reversal, which made Ladoja to give ultimatum that he would leave the party if nothing was done on the issue. The harmonised SEC was not reversed, till Ladoja, who alleged that the action of the leadership of PDP was unfair to him by allegedly imposing Makinde on him, left the party for ADC.
Makinde fought for the governorship ticket of PDP with Senator Ayoade Adeseun from Oyo Central senatorial district. In the harmonised executive, the camp of Ladoja got 14 slots, and Seyi Makinde’s camp got 12 slots. Makinde had run for governorship on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2015. He along with Alao-Akala had sought to contest the poll on PDP platform in 2015, but dumped the party when the ticket was given to the former senate leader, Teslim Folarin, who is now the APC candidate for Oyo Central Senatorial district. Makinde left for SDP and Alao-Akala also left for Labour Party (LP). Makinde returned to PDP in 2017 and Alao-Akala left for APC with Folarin, before Alao-Akala defected to ADP recently.
ADC appears to have become a beautiful bride in the state. It has received Senator Ladoja from PDP, Senator Lanlehin from PDP, and Senator Monsurat Sunmonu from APC. Ladoja, who had moved his political structure from Accord to PDP, further moved the structure to ADC recently.
The list of ADC members also include two former deputy governors of the state, Alhaji Hameed Gbadamosi, and Amassador Taofeek Arapaja, who served during the administrations of Chief Kolapo Ishola, and Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, respectively. Arapaja was a former Nigerian Ambassador to Jordan. Four former secretaries to the state government, Chief Michael Koleoso; Alhaji Busari Adebisi, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo, Chief Sarafadeen Alli and Chief Ayodele Adigun are also members of ADC.
Senator Gbenga Babalola from Oyo North senatorial district; former council chairmen, Prince Yemi Aderibigbe, and Gbenga Adewusi; and an astute politician, Alhaji Yinka Olona, are also in ADC.
But the dust of a recent crisis that rocked the party is yet to totally settle. The internal wrangling shook the party to its foundation. The crisis bordered on the governorship ticket of the party. The party had 13 governorship aspirants and eventually, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin was said to have emerged the consensus candidate.
But the process was challenged by 12 other aspirants, who went to court and petitioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in Abuja. The committee intervened and asked all the aspirants to meet and present one of them. The 13 aspirants met and elected former Commissioner for Education in the state, Dr. Nureni Adeniran. But the NWC eventually affirmed the candidature of Lanlehin, saying Adeniran did not show evidence of obtaining the party’s nomination form and financial capacity to fund the electioneering.
The affirmation of Lanlehin, Daily Sun gathered, may stop Senator Ladoja from dumping ADC for another party. The aspirants that lost out had accused him of being the mastermind of the implosion within ADC in the state. It was gathered that Lanlehin was presented to the party by Ladoja.
The NWC of ADC, however, explained that Lanlehin was affirmed as candidate because investigations carried out by it showed that Lanlehin is the only one at the moment that could win the 2019 governorship poll for the party. It is believed in a number of quarters that Lanlehin still has his loyalists in APC and PDP, which if properly harnessed, could work in his favour in the build up to the governorship election, it was further learnt.
But some astute supporters of Senator Ladoja did not follow him to ADC. They include a former member of House of Representatives, Busari Olayemi, and Ladilu of Oyo, and former member, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Board (NDIC), Chief Bisi Ilaka, who is the PDP candidate for Oyo central senatorial district.
According to sources, some of these known supporters of Ladoja chose to stay back in PDP so as to realise their various political aspirations, while others elected to stay with the PDP because of political differences they have with the one time national leader of Accord Party.
Ilaka would have done a great disservice to his ambition if he chose to defect to the ADC. It is a well known fact that Senator Sunmonu, the incumbent senator representing Oyo central, whom Ilaka narrowly lost to in the 2015 election, is one of the leaders of the ADC and seeks to return to the senate, in 2019.
Factors that will shape the governorship contest
Zoning, Oyo State has five political zones. They are: Ibadan, with 11 councils, Oyo with four councils, Ogbomoso with five councils, Ibarapa with three councils, and Oke-Ogun with 10 councils.
Available records show that Ibadan towers above other zones in terms of population and voting strength. It is unlikely that Ibadan elders will not support one of their own. By the time the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi, completes his second term in office on May 29, 2019; it will be exactly 16 years that natives of Ibadan zone governed the state out of the 20 years of democratic governance.
Ibadan zone alone has produced three of the four governors in the state. The trio are Lam Adesina from 1999 to 2003, Rashidi Ladoja from 2003 to 2007 and Abiola Ajimobi from 2011 to 2019. Adebayo Alao-Akala, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, hails from Ogbomoso zone, and did not win the poll without the active support of a prominent Ibadan native, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, the late strongman of Ibadan politics.
During the 2015 poll, Ibadan zone recorded 47 percent of the total votes, which stood at 906,870, cast for the five top governorship candidates. Oke-Ogun followed with 23 percent, Ogbomoso had 15 percent, Oyo had nine percent and Ibarapa had six percent.
Also in 2011, Ibadan recorded 51 percent of the total votes cast, which stood at 1,083,757, with Oke-Ogun having 20 percent, Ogbomoso having 14 percent, Oyo having 9.7 percent, and Ibarapa having 5.3 percent.
As it is now, the candidates of APC, Adebayo Adelabu, hails from Ibadan, and he is a grandson of a fierce pre-independence politician, Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, fondly called ‘Penkelemesi’. Penkelemesi is the corrupt form of ‘peculiar mess’ by traditional drummers when Alhaji Adelabu who died in 1958, described a particular situation as that of a “peculiar mess.”
In the same vein, Oluseyi Makinde and Olufemi Lanlehin, of PDP and ADC respectively are also natives of Ibadan. It is only Alao-Akala that hails from Ogbomoso.
Analysts say that Alao-Akala will determine the voting pattern in the five local government areas in Ogbomoso, while all the candidates will share the votes from the 11 local governments in Ibadan. Also, the body language of the most prominent native of Oyo, it was said, will determine the voting pattern in the four councils in Oyo town. The four leading political parties will have to work to win votes in the 10 councils in Oke-Ogun, as well as the three councils in Ibarapa division. The zone that however produces the running mate of each of the candidate will also go a long way in determining the voting patterns for the governorship poll.
Kingmakers, the winner of governorship poll in 1999 was determined by the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere. It was decided in 2003 and 2007 by Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and in 2011 by Chief Michael Koleosho and Alhaji Lam Adesina. In 2015, the sitting governor won re-election.
But in 2019, it seems only time will tell, who will determine the winner. This is so because new godfathers have been emerging from different political parties.
A cursory look at the political arena in the state show that the political consciousness, awareness and education of electorate have increased and they may vote according to their convictions about political parties and the candidates, irrespective of what perceived godfathers will say.